15. 03. 2019

On Thursday, March 14, the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) issued a statement which welcomes the EU’s proposed 9th framework programme for research and innovation Horizon Europe. The CAS praised the concepts aiming at support of European research projects, reduction of bureaucratic burden, as well as the vision of open science, inclusiveness, and gender balance; on the other hand, it also stressed the importance of a higher-than-proposed increase of the budget and warned against reduction of the share of financial means going into research infrastructure.

According to the Czech Academy of Sciences, the European Union’s framework programme for research and innovation “Horizon Europe” is the most important tool for strengthening the EU’s global competitiveness, as well as for securing the continuation of funding for European research beyond 2020. “EU framework programmes play an indispensable role in ensuring the highest standard of European science and achieving excellent research results of global importance that make a vital contribution to stimulating economic and regional development across Europe,” the statement says.

Increase of the budget

The Czech Academy of Sciences has acquainted itself with the legislative documents for Horizon Europe presented by the European Commission in June 2018 and also with the modifications by European Parliament from December 2018, and recommends the Czech Ministry of Education to support the framework programme.

At the same time, it also addresses some looming issues that require further attention. According to the CAS, the 30% increase in the budged proposed by the European Commission is insufficient; with regard to the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU, as well as resulting political insecurity and other problems, the CAS recommends at least doubling the budget in comparison to the previous Horizon 2020 framework programme. “By doing so, the EU would also demonstrate its continued determination to meet its commitment from 2000, reaffirmed in 2010 in the Europe 2020 strategy, to spend 3% of its GDP on research and development,” stated the Czech Academy of Sciences.

In connection with the budget, the CAS also expressed its concern with the planned reduction in the share of financial means for research infrastructures. “Research infrastructures constitute the essential element of facilitating excellent research, markedly influencing its global competitiveness, contributing significantly to international and interdisciplinary cooperation, to knowledge circulation, and constituting a fundamental building block of the European Research Area. Moreover, research infrastructures play an essential role in strengthening European cohesion particularly through the development of less developed regions.”

Open science

However, the CAS deems most steps included in the proposed framework programme to be desirable and positive. “The CAS in the first place calls for the reinforcement of tools aimed at supporting curiosity driven research as the most important source of new knowledge, data and results enabling the emergence of innovation and a means to consolidate the position of European research in the global context.”

The statement also praises the support of inclusiveness including gender balance or simplification of rules for beneficiaries of grants. It also stresses the importance of activities aimed at fulfilling the vision of open science and related sharing of research results through the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). “For effective operation of open access instruments, provided data must not only be accessible, easily traceable, systematically stored and well described, but also quality, integrity and reproducibility must be checked. In this context, the CAS points to the high demands placed on storage size, data operations, the need for robust and transparent data protocols and the necessity for responsible and consistent approach to secondary processing and interpretation of accessible data,” emphasised the Czech Academy of Sciences.

The full text of the statement is available here.

Prepared by: Milan Pohl, Department of Media Communication of the Head Office of the CAS
Photo: Technology Centre of the CAS